Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Sand castles and rock pools: first draft, second novel - taking the clifftop path towards "Cloudhover Solstice"

Scouting out "Cloudhover Solstice" locations: Flamborough Head 17th century Old Chalk Beacon Tower 
The first draft of "Cloudhover Solstice" feels to me a bit like a deliciously playful sand castle on the edge of a rockpool of rippling possibilities, hidden depths. The capricious tides of ideas and words are ebbing and flowing, filling things in, knocking bits down, smoothing jutting edges, revealing scary fissures beneath the surface, the story sculpted by sea frets as the wind veers around the compass of plot and pacing.

I'm back from my eagerly-anticipated research reconnaissance trip to fairest Flamborough, the setting for the novel, from the chalk cliffs and caves to the haunting hidden hollows of ancient Danes Dyke, cutting off the headland from the rest of these islands, leaving it pointing mysteriously out towards vanished Doggerland off the coast of Holderness.

Selwick Stack, Selwick's Bay, Flamborough Head
I took the opportunity of drinking in every detail, smelling the scents of the sea, tasting the bite of the onshore breezes, listening to the rhythms and colours of the seabirds' crying, so integral to my tale. I stood in Bram's shoes as he hears the unsettling call of the Kittiwakes over the water, stood with Thirza as she teeters, conflicted and determined on the edge of the crumbling cliff. I wandered along the beaches of North and South Landing, watching through the filter of imagination all the local sights and sounds that are the background to my evolving narrative.

Kittiwakes, High Stacks, Flamborough

Cave arch, North Landing, Flamborough

I took photographs and emotional mental snapshots, too, of those dominant sentinels of the headland, the 1806 Lighthouse and the Old Beacon Tower, built in chalk in the seventeen century. They must play their part, with their own tales interweaving into the lives of my characters and impacting on their fictional journey.

I took panorama sweeps to judge distances between landmarks, from Filey Brigg in the north, to Bridlington to the south. I explored Chatterthrow, formerly "Chattertrove" beyond Little Thornwick Bay, named for the racket made by the seabirds that thronged the cliffs as they nested, before humankind impacted their paradise, a central theme in my book.

Flamborough panorama from Chatterthrow back towards the Lighthouse

Flamborough did me good, as it always does, not only as a writer, but as a human being. Chronic illness has meant four years of not being able to manage a holiday, and Flamborough has haunted my dreams with glimpses of joy throughout those life-limiting days. Flamborough more than made up for it. Flamborough wouldn't know how to disappoint me if it tried!

Flamborough Head Lighthouse

So the chipping and carving at the sand castle goes on, as "Cloudhover Solstice" takes its own unique shape under my scribbling fingers, recreating and restoring me along the way. I hope when it's ready to reveal itself to the world, you will enjoy reading it and that you'll be enchanted too by this magical place!

Danes Dyke Beach, Flamborough

No comments:

Post a Comment